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September 28, 2023, Adrian, Michigan – Adrian Dominican Sisters gathered on September 20, 2023, were transported half a world away from Adrian to the Philippines when Sisters Lourdes “Lou” Pamintuan, OP, and Victoria “Vicky” Changcoco, OP, gave a presentation on the history, ministries, and missions of the Sisters of Our Lady of Remedies based in the Philippines.
Sister Lou gave a history of the Remedies Dominican Congregation, which began in 1961 with the request by Bishop Emilio Cinense for Adrian Dominican Sisters to serve in the Diocese of San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines. Mother Gerald Barry refused, but offered religious formation for women from the Philippines willing to start a Dominican Congregation in his diocese. Five young women came to Adrian for their formation.
“In time, the seed was nurtured in Adrian and ready to be planted in the Philippines,” Sister Lou said. Four Sisters completed the formation process and, on October 2, 1965, were joined by Adrian Dominican Sisters Mary Philip Ryan, OP, and Ellen Vincent McClain, OP, “for the formation and community direction,” Sister Lou said.
“On December 8, 1965, I became the first Postulant to enter [the community] during a ceremony in the chapel, followed by a simple snack,” Sister Lou recalled. “In four years’ time, the Good Lord of the Harvest blessed the community with vocations.” In 1972, the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Remedies became an independent congregation.
The Sisters moved to a new Motherhouse on the grounds of a seminary in 1978. “It was our home for many years,” and the site of professions of vows, jubilees, retreats, and other community celebrations, Sister Lou said. The Congregation later sought a merger with the Adrian Dominican Sisters, and the two became one Congregation in 2011. The Sisters based in the Philippines are now part of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter.
Sister Vicky spoke of her years of ministry, beginning with her entrance in 1985 at the age of 20. She participated in a “contextualized formation” for men and women novices from different communities. “This is where my passion for social justice began,” she recalled. “It was all eye-opening for me. I became bolder in living out the mission as a Preacher of the Word.”
Sister Vicky recounted her years in social ministry, from the deposition of President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 – when people became poorer. “We facilitated the release of activists from jail, attended rallies, mobilized the people, and gave seminars on consciousness-raising.” She continued her advocacy and work for people with low income after the 1981 eruption of Mount Pinatubo, which displaced many people. Farmers who came to live at the Clark U.S. Air Base were harassed after the U.S. military left and foreign investors arrived.
“We facilitated meetings between farms and the Clark Base,” ultimately presenting a successful petition with 1 million signatures asking the Clark Development Corporation to allow the farmers to remain on the land.
“I found the courage to take the initiative to lead the group,” Sister Vicky said. “I was branded as an activist, received death threats, and was blacklisted by the government. My faith and trust in God were constant, for I knew God would not abandon me.”
Sister Vicky also spoke of her 13 years as a missionary in Taiwan, beginning in November 1999. She ministered primarily with Filipino women who arrived in Taiwan as mail-order brides seeking a better life in a climate of worsening poverty in the Philippines. “My life as a missionary in Taiwan was often hectic,” Sister Vicky recalled. “I would find myself late at night on the road to attend the call of Filipino housewives with emotional and psychological problems because of mistreatment.”
Watch a video of the entire presentation by Sisters Lou and Vicky below or view from the ADS video library.
Chicago, September 18, 2023 – “Whatever the issue – climate, peace, or human rights – we’re all in it together. We can only do this by being in it together, the whole global community – everybody included.”
That was one of the responses of Sister Kathleen Nolan, OP, Director of the Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, to her attendance at the Ninth Convening of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, held August 14-18, 2023, at McCormick Place in Chicago. Also attending were Adrian Dominican Associate Carol Fowler and Sisters Durstyne Farnan, OP, and Jean Keeley, OP. They were among more than 7,000 participants representing 95 countries and more than 200 faith traditions.
Enjoying the convening are, from left, Sister Jean Keeley, OP; Pat Tomich, a friend of the Adrian Dominican Sisters; and a new Franciscan friend.
Photo by Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP
The Parliament of the World Religions is an international organization founded in 1893 to “cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and to foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions to address the critical issues of our time,” according to its website.
The Parliament originated in Chicago in 1893, but the first of its regular international gatherings began in Chicago in 1993. The convenings took place every few years after that in various parts of the world, culminating in the gathering in Toronto in 2018 and a virtual gathering in 2021. The Parliament returned to Chicago this year. The theme was “A Call to Conscience: Defending Freedom and Human Rights.”
Participants attended daily plenary sessions and could attend one of about 30 workshops at every time slot on various tracks. “There were workshops on multiple topics,” Sister Durstyne recalled. “The climate was [a popular topic], and it was new to the Parliament. We heard a presentation on human rights – the right to a healthy environment, a new resolution that the UN passed in July.”
The Adrian Dominican participants appreciated the daily vegan lunch provided by the Sikh community. In addition, they browsed booths staffed by people of various religious faith traditions and organizations and took the opportunity to speak to them.
Members of the Sikh community perform a quiet chant during the vegan lunch they provided every day.
Photo by Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP
Sisters Durstyne and Kathleen stayed with Adrian Dominican Sisters living in Chicago, including Sister Jean. “That was another way for us to engage other Adrian Dominicans,” Sister Durstyne said. “When we have an opportunity to share with our Sisters, that also engages them, and they engage us.”
The four Adrian Dominican participants took the opportunity later to reflect on their experience.
“I liked the huge diversity in the people we saw, experienced, and listened to,” Carol said. “The atmosphere there was so welcoming and hospitable, the way people treated one another and wanted to learn from one another. …This was a golden opportunity to try to understand other faith traditions.”
The Adrian Dominican participants took advantage of that opportunity. For example, Carol said she learned a lot from “listening to speakers from the Islamic tradition and how closely aligned we are in 95 percent of what we believe.”
Sister Jean attended a session led by Indigenous peoples. “[They] had an enormous circle in the assembly hall, and we passed the microphone and spoke about what we were grateful for and our passions,” she recalled.
But, along with the diversity of faith traditions and cultures, the Adrian Dominican participants also noticed a sense of unity, particularly in matters of justice and peace. “There were core values of peacemaking, listening, dialogue, and trying to understand,” Carol said.
“Whatever the issue – climate, peace, or human rights – we’re all in it together,” Sister Kathleen said. She noted the Parliament’s Global Ethic, which recently included a call to sustainability and care for the Earth. That fifth ethic makes the connection between the Earth Charter and the UN Declaration on Human Rights. “People are beginning to realize that everything is connected,” she said.
“That seems to be the message, that the churches need to step up – especially [in the area of] poverty,” Sister Jean said. “There’s so much emphasis on fixing our air conditioning or paving the parking lot [but] there doesn’t seem to be a wider vision.”
Sisters Durstyne and Kathleen experienced a particular challenge for people in the United States and other developed nations. “There are limits to what we can and cannot do,” Sister Durstyne said. “We, especially in the United States, need to learn this.” In one workshop, she said, she heard of the commitment by noted Catholic scholar and environmentalist Thomas Berry “to another way of living besides living extravagantly, so much out of fossil fuels and [their] emissions.”
“The idea is that wealthy nations are obligated to lighten their impact on the poor nations,” Sister Kathleen said. “Nobody lives in a vacuum and has the right to everything. We have to learn that if we’re willing to share resources, there’s enough for everyone.”
Carol recommended that anybody interested in attending the next convening – the date and place have not yet been set – should consider doing so. “It offers you the opportunity to get out of your mindset and have a completely different experience,” she said. “The focus was very much on what we can do in the here and now. It was a terrific experience.”
Read more about the recent convening of the World Parliament of the World’s Religions in an article in the National Catholic Reporter.